Hamra, Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Tue 17.11.09, Afternoon

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Tom K., Lena, and Dafna B.

Translation: Bracha B.A.

A continuation of the previous report about the sheep that were grazing off the marked path

We drove with the shepherd to see the place where he had received the report.  On the side of the Arava Road near “Brosh Habikah” there is an empty field which is unmarked, with no fence or paths that the sheep could have turned off of.  The same is true on the other side of the road.  Like all other places in the valley at the end of the summer we can see the beginnings of green growth after the rains.  Further away beyond the place where the man was herding his cows (not sheep, my mistake) there is an old sign , part of which is illegible: “Um Zuka Nature Reserve.  Harming Fauna, Flora, and Other Things is Forbidden.”  It is a desolate, neglected place, certainly not a “nature preserve” and there is not a single road in it.

12:00 Maaleh Ephraim Checkpoint
A Palestinian truck is being held up.  Two men are standing next to it and the wife of one of the men (who is pregnant) is sitting in the truck.  They are from Farush Beit Dajan near Hamra.  They have been detained for an hour (the soldiers hesitantly say only a half hour).  The soldiers say that one of them is wanted by the General Security Services and that they are on the way to the checkpoint to arrest him.  We were somewhat doubtful of this since we have heard this explanation numerous times.  Meanwhile the soldiers detain the others to see if they are “blacklisted” as well.  When we telephoned the Liaison and Coordination Administration a soldier gave a lot of “security” explanations that has no basis.

12:25 – A sort of courtyard has been created by a building surrounded by concrete barriers and a fourth detainee comes out – the driver of the truck whom we did not know was there.  He is the “wanted man”.  The soldier gives him their IDs and they leave.  The General Security Forces excuse was a lot of nonsense.

12:45 – Hamra Checkpoint
People are passing through quickly and there is no line despite the fact that there are a lot of cars coming from the valley filled with workers coming back from work in the settlements.  Workers get out of the taxis and minibuses and go eastward through the checkpoint on foot.  The taxis and minibuses go through separately.  This is the first time that we see passengers going to the West Bank having to get out.  It is not clear if this is a new requirement or whether they are doing this because it is more convenient.

14:30 – Tayasir Checkpoint
There are almost no cars.  The soldiers are tired and apathetic but their attitude is not patronizing or rude.  When we were about to leave Palestinians told us that when they had gone through the checkpoint a few days ago the  soldiers has been particularly cruel and rude.  They tore up many people’s documents.  However, “today the soldiers are good.”  We asked them to call us immediately if there were any more incidents.

15:00 Zroa Guhia Checkpoint
There are no Palestinians or soldiers even though it is officially an hour when the crossing is open.  We waited 10 minutes but no one came.

15:25 – Hamra Checkpoint
There is a line of 8 cars waiting for about ten minutes.  Immediately after we arrived the soldiers at the checkpoints begin to let them through and the line disappears.
A Palestinian policeman is being detained at the checkpoint.  He is originally from Gaza but has been a policeman in the West Bank since 1995 and lives there.  Since his ID hadn't been changed he cannot pass.  The commander of the checkpoint, a pleasant officer, calls headquarters and after 15 minutes a man from the Liaison and Coordination Administration arrives and tries to help.  HE calls the Liaison and Coordination Administration in Beit El to receive permission to let him through.

16:15 – It was beginning to get dark and there was little we could do, so we left.